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Wednesday, September 22, 2021

Hate Speech Enforcement: Rights group drags FG to ECOWAS Court

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A human rights group, “The Expression Now Human Rights Initiative” has filed a suit against the Nigerian Government before the ECOWAS Court over the provisions and enforcement of hate speech in the Nigerian Broadcasting Code 6th Edition and its amendments.

The suit marked was filed through the Non-Governmental Organization (NGO)s’ counsel, Solomon Okedara.

Okedara in the suit, argued that while the focus of many Nigerians is on the N5million, fine which the NBC Code (6th Edition) imposes in its Amendments, the Code even imposes other far-reaching penalties.

The counsel contended that while the N5million fine is disproportionate and unjustifiable, penalties like suspension of broadcast services, suspension of license, shut down/seal up of transmitter’ are excessive and disproportionate and can have far more damaging effect on free speech.

Okedara further argued that the definition of ‘Hate Speech’ as given in the Code is vague, ambiguous and overboard.

He also noted that the Code criminalizes “offensive reference” and wondered if the drafters of the code realized that making “offensive reference” is integral to free speech and important to open, diverse and heterogeneous society.

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